20 weeks of football down and the only teams left standing are the Chiefs and Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV. As usual, we’re going to run down the game from a top-down fantasy stance. With just one game, we’ve had more room to focus on the players involved. Having that extra time has allowed us here at Sharp Football to delve deep into the teams, players, and matchups between these teams for the Super Bowl Worksheet.
|Kansas City||Rank||@||Tampa Bay||Rank|
|41.1%||13||Opp. Rush %||34.6%||1|
|58.9%||20||Opp. Pass %||65.4%||32|
Against The Spread
Chiefs ATS as Favorite: 7-9
Buccaneers ATS as Underdog: 4-1
This postseason has featured a plethora of regular season rematches and Super Bowl LV is no exception.
The Chiefs and Buccaneers played back in Week 12, with Kansas City coming out ahead 27-24 in Tampa Bay. Regular season rematches in the Super Bowl are not all that common, actually. This will be just the 14th time it has happened and the first time since 2011. In the previous iterations, the team that won the regular season meeting is 6-7, however.
Back in that Week 12 game, these teams combined for 53 points despite both teams combining for three turnovers on the other team’s side of the field. The Chiefs also had 10 penalties, tied for their second-highest total in a game this season. In that game, the Chiefs averaged a season-high 7.54 yards per offensive play while the Buccaneers averaged 7.58 yards per play, their second-highest total on the season outside of facing Detroit in Week 16.
The three-point differential was closer than how the game played out, however. Kansas City put on a first quarter blitzkrieg, taking a 17-0 lead after the opening quarter. Tampa Bay had four first quarter possessions, totaling just 14 plays on those drives for 39 yards with four punts. They never punted again all game, but trailed 20-7 at the half and 27-10 after three quarters. Tampa Bay then cut the lead to 27-17 with 12:44 remaining and then 27-24 with 4:10 left in the game, but ultimately could not get a final stop to have a chance to win or tie or the game.
We will dig into some of the player specifics from that game, but the Buccaneers did alter their approach defensively despite many believing otherwise. Our Dan Pizzuta highlighted that the Bucs played 2-High Safeties on 58% of their defensive snaps, a 22.8% increase over their use of that alignment facing all other opponents. With no good way to defend Kansas City, Tampa Bay still allowed a season-high 7.54 yards per play in the game.
Many people questioned whether the Chiefs would turn things up another notch in the postseason after letting teams hang around to close the regular season. Through two playoff games, the Chiefs have scored on 11-of-14 offensive possessions and have punted just once.
The Buccaneers are looking to become the seventh Wild Card team to pull off four straight postseason wins and close as champions. The last team to do so was the 2010 Packers. If the Bucs can accomplish this, they would be the first Wild Card team to beat No. 1 seeds in each conference since the 2000 Ravens.
For as much deserved credit as the Kansas City offense gets, the Tampa Bay offense has scored more points per game and enters the Super Bowl on a franchise-record run of scoring at least 30 points in six consecutive games and scoring 24 or more points in 10 straight games.
They are likely going to need to be every bit as good here. In the nine career losses Patrick Mahomes had under center, opponents scored an average of 36.2 points. The opposing team has needed 29 or more points scored in six of those nine games while Kansas City has scored fewer than 24 points in just one of their losses with Mahomes at quarterback.
Patrick Mahomes: Mahomes hits the Super Bowl having scored at least 20 fantasy points in 13-of-17 games this season with fewer than 18.6 fantasy points just once over the entire season.
This is a catch-22 for defenses as Mahomes has excelled against the blitz. When blitzed this season, Mahomes has completed 71% of his passes for 9.1 yards per attempt with 18 touchdown passes to just one interception. That is why teams have so often resorted to just dropping back and playing coverage versus the Chiefs. In that Week 12 matchup with the Bucs, Tampa Bay blitzed on just 17% of the dropbacks, their lowest rate by far this season (their season rate was 42%). It still did not work as Mahomes completed 37-of-49 passes for a season-high 462 yards (9.4 Y/A) with three touchdowns (31.3 fantasy points).
In that game, Tampa Bay did pressure Mahomes on 34% of his dropbacks, however. Under pressure, Mahomes was 7-of-15 (46.7%) for 109 yards (7.3 Y/A) with one touchdown. When kept clean, he was 30-of-34 (88.2%) for 353 yards (10.4 Y/A) with two touchdowns.
This is the one area where the Bucs defense will have to make more of an impact and they could be in a position to do so given the injuries the Chiefs have suffered up front. Mahomes was only sacked twice in that Week 12 game, but of the 20 pressures their offense allowed, Mike Remmers and Andrew Wylie accounted for 11 of them. After losing left tackle Eric Fisher to a torn Achilles in the AFC Championship Game, the Chiefs will enter the Super Bowl with center Austin Reiter as their lone remaining starter from Week 1 on the offensive line. Remmers — who played right tackle when these teams played in Week 12 — will slide to left tackle in place of Fisher while Wylie will move over to right tackle on Sunday.
We will see how much the extra time off helps Mahomes’s injured toe as well. In the AFC Championship Game, Mahomes had five rushing yards and zero scramble yards, his fewest in a game since Week 9. When these teams played in Week 12, Mahomes added 28 rushing yards, 16 on designed runs and 12 on scrambles, adding three first downs on those rushes.
Tom Brady: Brady will be playing in his 10th Super Bowl on Sunday. He has not been perfect this postseason, but Brady continues to be a touchdown producer. In his three postseason starts, Brady has completed just 55.0%, 54.5%, and 55.6% of his passes. During the regular season, he had just one game (Week 11 versus the Rams) with a lower completion rate than any of these past three games.
But Brady has still thrown multiple touchdown passes in all three games, something he has done in 10 straight games going back to the regular season. He also has thrown for over 300 yards in six of those games.
When these teams last met in Week 12, we were in the middle of the narrative that Brady’s deep ball was long left for dead. Prior to facing the Chiefs, Brady had completed 41.1% of his passes on throws over 15 yards downfield for 11.5 Y/A and a 76.0 rating. In that Week 12 game, Brady was 4-of-8 for 19.0 Y/A and a touchdown (95.8 rating) on those throws. From that point on through the postseason, Brady completed 50% of those passes for 14.5 Y/A and a league-high nine touchdown passes (110.2 rating).
Overall in that Week 12 matchup, Brady ended 27-of-41 for 345 passing yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions (21.7 fantasy points).
We are also always aware of Brady and teams that can generate pressure (especially pressure without blitzing). When facing zero pressure, Brady has completed 70.1% of his passes for 8.3 Y/A as opposed to 41.7% and 5.3 Y/A under pressure. Those drop offs are 31st and 35th at the position compared to when kept clean. In the postseason, Brady is just 6-of-21 passing for 124 yards with zero touchdowns under pressure. In Week 12 versus the Chiefs, Brady was 4-of-10 for 90 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions under pressure.
Brady and Kansas City defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo are no strangers. Brady-led teams have a 2-3 record against Spagnuolo defenses (0-2 while with Kansas City), with Brady averaging 7.0 Y/A in those games, throwing nine touchdown passes and four interceptions.
The Chiefs entered the postseason struggling defensively through the air. After allowing 6.6 Y/A and nine touchdown passes through their opening eight games (15.2 fantasy points per game), opposing passers averaged 7.5 Y/A with 20 touchdown passes against the Chiefs over their final eight games (23.5 points per game). But Kansas City has turned it back on in the postseason, limiting Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen to 5.5 Y/A and 6.0 Y/A.
Leonard Fournette: After being a healthy scratch back in Week 14, Fournette was trending to be this season’s LeSean McCoy (coincidentally, also a Buccaneer). But a late- regular season and playoff injuries to Ronald Jones put Fournette back on the path for opportunity and he did not waste his touches.
This postseason, Fournette has handled 23, 22, and 17 touches for 132, 107, and 74 yards while finding the end zone in each of those games. Dating back to the regular season, Fournette has scored in five of his past six games with six touchdowns total over that span.
Even with Jones back in the lineup the past two games, Fournette has out-snapped Jones 49-21 and 45-18 in those games while out-touching Jones 22-13 and 17-10.
Jones was a bright spot when these teams played in Week 12, sparking the Bucs with their first touchdown of the game on a 37-yard catch and run while tacking on a 34-yard run. Down 17 points after the first quarter, however, Tampa Bay had a 32-9 pass-to-run rate the final three quarters of the game. Their backfield managed just 16 total touches in the game, but turned those opportunities into 123 yards.
That is something that was common versus the Chiefs this season. 35.6% of the fantasy points allowed by the Chiefs this season have gone to running backs (the sixth-highest rate in the league and behind only the Packers among playoff teams). The Chiefs allowed 4.5 yards per carry to backs (20th) and allowed 141.8 total yards per game to opposing backfields during the season (28th), with eight different backs hitting 100 yards from scrimmage. That said, the Chiefs did allow just 10 touchdowns to opposing backs, which was tied for second-fewest in the league.
Even if Jones gets a larger workload with the extra time off, Fournette is a much safer bet in not being able to be game scripted out as he has run a pass route on 37.4% of the team dropbacks compared to 26.5% for Jones. Jones has not caught more than one pass in a game since Week 9 while Fournette played 20 passing snaps when these teams last played compared to eight for Jones.
Chiefs RBs: The Chiefs got Clyde Edwards-Helaire back on the field for the AFC Championship Game for the first time since Week 15 after the rookie suffered ankle and hip injuries. Edwards-Helaire out-snapped Darrel Williams in that game versus Buffalo 32-30, but it was Williams who received the most touches (14-7) while out-gaining the rookie 61 yards to eight. Edwards-Helaire did hold the passing edge, playing 19 passing snaps compared to 12 for Williams.
Le’Veon Bell is expected to be available for the Super Bowl, but his usage cannot be counted on and this is a matchup that lends itself towards the Chiefs going pass heavy. Tampa Bay’s elite run defense forced teams to play one-dimensional this season, facing a league-high 65.4% pass rate. The Buccaneers were second in EPA against the run and strong at preventing explosive gains on the ground. Tampa Bay allowed the fewest runs of 10 or more yards this season (33) on just 9.5% of their carries faced (fifth). When these teams played in Week 12, Kansas City backs rushed 16 times for 59 yards (3.7 YPC) as the Chiefs threw the ball 72.2% of their offensive snaps, their second-highest rate in a game this season.
If looking for somewhat of an out for a back here, although Tampa Bay is excellent versus the run, they did allow 10.9 receiving points per game to opposing backs (28th) and a league-high 6.0 receptions per game to backs, although Chiefs backs totaled just three receptions for 12 yards in the previous meeting.
Tyreek Hill: When these teams played in Week 12, Hill had the most memorable wide receiver performance of the 2020 season, catching 13-of-15 targets for 269 yards and three touchdowns. In the first quarter alone, Hill caught all seven of his targets for 203 yards and two scores.
Our Dan Pizzuta highlighted both of those scoring plays in the opening quarter and how the offensive scheme played a role outside of the narrative that Tampa Bay was running man-to-man defense heavily to open. In that game, the Chiefs also hammered Hill out of the slot, with Hill catching 6-of-7 targets for 116 yards and a score from inside. Positive news for the Bucs as it pertains to this matchup is that they will have Jamel Dean available for the Super Bowl. Dean is the fastest defensive back the Bucs have, running a 4.30 40 coming out of Auburn. Dean was unavailable for the Week 12 matchup with a concussion, leaving Tampa Bay to play journeyman Ross Cockrell for a season-high 63 snaps.
While Tampa Bay will have all of their corners available Sunday, the Chiefs have still found a way to make Hill a large part of the offense and have adapted to how teams have combated trying to prevent the deep ball from their offensive arsenal.
Through eight games, Hill was averaging a 14.6-yard average depth of target and seeing only 6.8 targets per game. From Week 9 on, Hill’s depth of target dropped down to 11.6 yards while his targets per game spiked to 11.3 as they incorporated Hill with more efficient targets and volume.
This also allowed Hill to showcase more of his creative ability with the ball in his hands as Hill posted 417 yards after the catch (6.0 per reception) from Week 9 on, which ranked second in the NFL, as opposed to 158 YAC prior (4.5 yards per reception).
While involving Hill more near the line of scrimmage, there still can be deep opportunities here as we know from the Week 12 matchup. As good as the Tampa Bay defense was this season, they were beatable downfield, allowing a 49.5% completion rate on throws over 15 yards downfield (27th) and allowing nine touchdowns on those throws (22nd).
Mike Evans: Evans received more opportunity as the season wore on, seeing 7.8 targets per game over his final 10 games of the season after just 5.7 per game prior. Over that span, Evans received seven or more targets in seven of those games after hitting that arbitrary mark in four of his opening nine games.
Regardless of the volume increase, Evans has been leaned on as the primary touchdown scorer for this passing game. Leading the team with 15 touchdown receptions, Evans is tied for third in the league with 10 touchdowns on end zone targets this season.
The Chiefs are seventh in the league in points allowed per game to opposing WR1 (13.8 points per game) and allowed just four 100-yard games to opposing lead wideouts. Evans caught just 3-of-9 targets when these teams played earlier in the season, but his scoring upside was on display as two of his catches were 31-yard and seven-yard touchdown receptions.
Earlier this week, we highlighted how good Kansas City has been versus boundary wide receivers. Evans has seen his snap rate in the slot rise to 37.8% this season and climb to 41.7% in the postseason. Back in Week 12, it was just 28.2%, with one catch for the seven-yard score.
Chris Godwin: The player who stands to take the most advantage from the Chiefs being stronger outside than inside is Godwin, who plays 66.1% of his snaps from the slot, where he has caught 52 passes for 682 yards and five touchdowns on the season.
In that Week 12 matchup, Godwin caught 8-of-9 targets for 97 yards, with five catches for 80 yards out of the slot, including a 44-yard reception. Godwin has a 40-yard reception in four of his past eight games with a 27-yard reception or higher in four of his past five games to offer some upside outside of traditional low-leverage slot targets. Paired with a volume floor, Godwin has at least four receptions in 13-of-15 games played this season with five or more receptions in 11 of those games.
Antonio Brown: Brown missed the NFC title game due to a knee injury and his availability for Sunday is still in question. With the Bucs at full health, Brown has been limited even when healthy. In Brown’s nine games with Mike Evans fully operational, he has averaged 10.8 PPR points per game while averaging 8.1 points per game in his games without a touchdown. That includes catching 2-of-3 targets for 11 yards back in Week 12 when these teams played while Brown played 73% of the snaps, which was his second-highest total of the season.
If Brown cannot play or is limited, the primary benefactor is Scotty Miller. Prior to Brown joining the team, Miller had run a pass route on 68.5% of the team drop backs and then 26.5% afterwards. With Brown out for the NFC Championship, Miller ran 20 pass routes compared to 11 for Tyler Johnson. When on the field, Miller leads the team in average depth of target (16.4 yards) and yards per reception (15.6 yards) when given opportunities.
The Chiefs are seventh in the league in completion rate on throws over 15 yards downfield (37.6%), but did allow eight touchdowns on those attempts, which was tied for 14th if chasing a big play from this role in the offense.
Sammy Watkins: Watkins has not found the field since Week 16 due to a calf injury, but is finally expected to return for the Super Bowl.
If available, Watkins only managed a 37-421-2 line in 10 games this season while averaging a career-low 11.4 yards per reception. He was on the field when these teams played in Week 12, catching 4-of-7 targets for 38 yards.
Despite the pedestrian output, Watkins has typically shown up in the postseason for the Chiefs if throwing a longer dart. In five career postseason games with Kansas City, Watkins has had a low of 9.6 PPR points with games of 6-62-0, 4-114-0, 2-76-0, 7-114-1, and 5-98-0.
Chasing an ancillary pass catcher for the Chiefs is much harder this season as Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce have dominated all of the production. Kelce and Hill have accounted for 47.6% of the team targets, 48.4% of the receptions, 56.8% of the receiving yardage, and 65.9% of the receiving touchdowns.
Mecole Hardman: While chasing fringe production from the depth of the pass-catching tree for the Chiefs has been tougher this season,, Hardman has shown signs of life of late.
Hardman still has four or fewer receptions in every game but one this season and has eclipsed three receptions in just four games this season, but he does have double-digit PPR points in three of his past five games. Hardman has at least one rushing attempt in four of his past five games while finding his way to 62 and 54 yards in the two postseason games on creative touches.
Hardman only managed to catch 3-of-5 targets for 23 yards when these teams played in Week 12, but he and Mahomes did leave a potential 90-yard touchdown on the field.
Travis Kelce: Kelce has rolled over one of the all-time great seasons from a tight end right into the postseason. In the two playoff games, Kelce has posted lines of 8-109-1 and 13-118-2. An already great player on his own accord, Kelce’s production has skyrocketed with the amount of 2-High safety coverage the Chiefs see on a per game basis as he leads the NFL in catches, yards, and touchdowns against that defensive alignment. When these teams played in Week 12, Kelce had a modest 8-82-0 game, with all eight receptions coming in zone coverage.
Kelce has found the end zone in each of the past six games. The last time he failed to score a touchdown was when these teams last played. Kelce has seven or more receptions in 10 straight games, which is easily the best such streak for any tight end in league history. Over those 10 games, all those receptions have resulted in seven 100-yard games with another falling just short with 98 yards.
Tampa Bay has allowed a 71.7% catch rate on targets to tight ends (27th) and a 7.1% touchdown rate to the position (19th).
Buccaneers TEs: Rob Gronkowski now has two or fewer receptions in five straight games and in nine of his past 11 games. That said, Gronk still is tied for the team lead with 16 end zone targets to keep us honest in terms of touchdown capability.
Over those same 11 games, Cameron Brate has 29 receptions on 38 targets compared to Gronk’s 21 receptions on 44 targets. In the postseason, Brate has out-targeted Gronk 17-7 and even has more end zone targets (3-2).
The Chiefs were 20th in catch rate (69.6%), 22nd in yards per target (7.7) and 21st in touchdown rate (7.1%) allowed to opposing tight ends this season.
In the red zone, the Chiefs were vulnerable to opposing tight ends, ranking 24th in the league in allowing a 61% success rate on targets to tight ends in the red zone and allowing a league-high 6.1 yards per target on those passes to the position in that area of the field. Opposing tight ends caught nine of the 25 red zone passing touchdowns surrendered by Kansas City.
When these teams played in Week 12, the tight ends were a focal point for the Bucs. Gronk caught 6-of-7 targets for a season-high 106 yards while Brate caught 4-of-6 targets for 34 yards.